Oneida County gets veteran lawman as new undersheriff

Published Sep 12, 2018 at 4:00pm

A project to help law-enforcement agencies in Oneida County communicate better and share information faster, along with a veteran officer’s retirement from full-time duty, have set off several promotions and re-assignments within the Sheriff’s Office.

At the top, announced on Sept. 4 by Sheriff Rob Maciol at a swearing-in ceremony, was the promotion of Joseph Lisi, a veteran of 27 years in law enforcement, to undersheriff, the agency’s second-in-command.

Lisi had been in charge of the child advocacy unit.

Lisi replaces Robert S. Swenszkowski, who left the role of undersheriff to become a professor of practice in criminal justice at Utica College.

Swenszkowski, however, is staying on in a part-time role in charge of certain administrative functions including public information, accreditation, and a project to put policies and procedures online. A 26-year law-enforcement veteran, he became undersheriff in 2011.

Meanwhile, Captain Richard Antanavige has been tasked with overseeing two projects: converting the agency’s records to a county-wide digital records management system and converting the radio system to a new county-wide network.

That reassignment set off other promotions:

• Lieutenant Timothy O’Halloran was promoted to captain.

• Sergeant Craig Stockhauser was promoted to lieutenant.

• Corporal Jesse Tuthill was promoted to sergeant.

Also Sept. 4, Melissa Bolton, an investigator assigned to the Child Advocacy Center, was promoted to sergeant within the agency. She replaces recently retired Sgt. Denise Luker.

The Child Advocacy Center investigates crimes against people age 16 and younger throughout the county and upon referral by most local police departments. Most counties have such an entity, though in some they are an independent not-for-profit agency, Lisi said.

“We attack these cases as a team, and that’s why I think it’s so successful,” Lisi said.

Interviews to find the new head of the unit are planned for the next few weeks.

The multiple changes and new and expanded roles reflect the size and broad mission of the sheriff’s department. With some 540 employees, it’s among the largest parts of county government.

The added costs of promotions are typically anticipated in the annual budget, though the amount can’t be precise because how many people will retire can’t be known in advance.

“We have an idea so we do factor in a little cushion there,” Maciol said. “It’s somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,000 to $5,000 raise depending on who you’re talking about.”

Another growing role is providing school security. The special patrol unit providing resource officers in schools now has 60 personnel and is expected to grow to about 80 part-time employees, Maciol said. Earlier in the summer, the county announced an agreement to pay half the costs of officers in schools throughout Oneida County. Sgt. Matthew Bauer will be overseeing both the School Resource Officer program and Special Patrol Officer Program, Maciol said.  

Maciol thanked families for supporting law-enforcement personnel. Lisi was accompanied at Tuesday’s ceremony by his wife, Laurie, daughter Alyse, son Joe and grandson Bennett.

“Laurie, I know his phone rang a lot,” Maciol joked. “It’s going to ring a lot more now.

Lisi is returning to day-to-day work with the overall sheriff’s department. He served the department from May 1980 through 2004, when he was an investigative lieutenant.

He left then was a security supervisor with power company National Grid before heading the child advocacy office the past three years. He explained that his new role is primarily to provide administrative support and direct leadership to the three divisions: Corrections, Civil, and Law Enforcement.

“And one of the things I’m excited about is to work with all the different divisions,” Lisi said. “It’s just hard work, and I’m just thankful to be able to help them in whatever I can do.”

Maciol noted at the ceremony that Lisi has been a key figure in Maciol’s career from the start.

As a rookie patrol officer with New York Mills, Maciol unsuccessfully tried to stop a car one night. He contacted Lisi the next morning, who helped him find the occupants and learned they were connected to a home invasion and the car was stolen. The perpetrators got several years in state prison.

“I basically assisted him,” Lisi said. “Helped him take the statements, helped him put the case together and showed him how to do it.”